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Zimbabweans in the UK petition Theresa May over Zimbabwe election

by Kingstone Jambawo
21 May 2017 at 13:56hrs | Views
From left to right: Kingstone Jambawo, Louis (Security Staff), Elector Zvorwadza, Rashiwe Bayisayi, Mable Kayiya, and Shelton Mhlanga
Zimbabwean diaspora in UK demanding their right to vote protested outside 10 Downing Street on Saturday, 20 May 2017 to implore the British government to intervene.

Having campaigned outside the Zimbabwe embassy in London on the 18th of April, danced and protested on the streets of Birmingham on the 22nd of April and Manchester on the 13th of May to have their petitions signed, it was finally time to hand it over under the banner of Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (ZHRO).

They handed in the petition to Prime Minister Theresa May's government as part of their campaign calling for Zimbabwe diaspora to be included in the voting process.

The six people Elector Zvorwadza, Kingstone Jambawo, Mable Kayiya, Shelton Mhlanga, Rashiwe Bayisai, and John Burke went through an airport style security before walking to those famous doors.

Speaking before the hand in ceremony Rashiwe Bayisayi said "In a democratic country you can actually come to the 'State House'. Police here say they are "lovers not haters", - not like in Zimbabwe where there is just haters. We joked and laughed with the police at the UK State House (No 10). Mugabe this is how it should be done" referring to the receptive nature of the security staff.

Kingstone Jambawo reiterated that participating in the political process and casting a vote is a constitutional right for every Zimbabwean citizen just like it is for citizens of other countries.

"We at ZHRO along with a number of human rights groups have a countywide campaign going on. We are asking people, especially Zimbabweans to come and join us in our struggle for real democracy. We need elected, not appointed government officials"

Kingstone Jambawo also talked about the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) fulfilling it's commitment published in it's needs assessment report of 2014. In this report, ZEC had confirmed that it had plans to enable Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote in the 2018 elections.

"We strongly believe that it is our human rights to have a say in our country's political process. Our aim is to have the diaspora voting from their host nations in 2018. So we are going to continue with our cross country instalments"

Mable Kayiya passionately said "#Take2Zimbabwe campaign made its way to 10 Downing Street, home of PM Theresa May. We are appealing to the British people 37 years on to join us, stand with us, aid us in bringing about true independence Zimbabwe deserves"

Zimbabwe diaspora's right to vote is vaguely encompassed in the new constitution which was adopted in 2013. There vagueness arises where it provides that the diaspora's right to vote is subject to the governing charter's alignment of the electoral act. Now, ZANU (PF) has previously declared that it would not concede to electoral reforms that may see it lose power.

Talking about his desire to be allowed to vote, Shelton Mhlanga said "This is as per Section 67 (3) which grants every Zimbabwean his or her constitutional right to participate in electing a president. The problem with corrupt minds is that you fear the unknown"

"Why you are scared of us voting is because you are branding us opposition,yet you don't know who we will vote for. This is no crime at all it's just asking for what's rightfully ours".

"So Zimbabweans lets all get involved because if lm struggling and my people sit back and watch me struggle they are not my people" Mhlanga added.

Elector Zvorwadza said "It's ironic that I am here to plead with the UK Government for something my own should be doing"

John Burke was in charge of the photos and footage which was screened live on Facebook.

Currently, Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) affords civil servants serving on foreign missions a right to vote, whilst those living and working abroad are neglected because they are deemed to support the opposition.

There is an assumption within ZANU PF that the diaspora are "sell-outs" and are seen as an opposition constituency.

These various diasporan human rights groups have found a receptive environment in UK to campaign for the restoration of democracy and rule of law in Zimbabwe. They are gaining support from the British public as well as other western human rights groups.

The threat posed by diaspora activism is underlined by ZANU (PF)'s counter mobilisation through establishing Nick Mangwana's UK group.

ZANU PF's efforts have included jamming diaspora social media transmission into the country and by covert destabilisation and infiltration of opposition political parties' structures in UK.

These activism efforts by the UK diaspora in ZHRO and other human rights groups are aimed at transforming the situation back home as well as challenging exclusionary UK policies with regard to Brexit.

The key issues include, a diaspora vote, restoration of human rights and democracy, dual citizenship, electoral violence and intimidation.

Source - Kingstone Jambawo